Success Story: Selection of future surgeons

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KSSG St Gallen Klinik


The Cantonal Hospital of St. Gallen (KSSG) planned to use psychological testing procedures to optimize the selection process for medical graduates wishing to train as surgeons and to evaluate the testing procedures after two years. At the same time, medical students were to be offered a potential analysis at an early stage to identify strengths and areas for development.

Surgeons are facing enormous responsibility in their day-to-day work, which can only be met with the appropriate skills and personality traits. The selection process should therefore be tailored and based on a highly valid and specific profile of requirements. The risk: For students who take part in both the potential analysis and the subsequent selection process, the use of the same test procedures could lead to practice effects that distort the results.


In order to be able to select the optimal tests, a precise profile of requirements was defined in a Critical Incident Workshop together with surgeons and psychologists from the KSSG. In this process, so-called success-critical situations were collected and analyzed in order to identify skills and characteristics that distinguish above-average successful surgeons from others. These skills and characteristics should then be captured by two different test batteries in potential analysis and selection procedures to avoid potential training effects.

After the tests had been selected, the psychological staff at the KSSG received comprehensive training in the use of the Vienna Test System and its tests - special attention was paid to the interpretation and feedback of the results. These competencies, which are important for the selection process, were taught in a realistic manner within the framework of practical exercises and role plays. For participants in the potential assessment, a customized report of results was also prepared, identifying strengths and areas for development across all roles of modern medical and surgical professionals.

We want young doctors to recognize their potential, tap into it and develop in a focused way. Metaphorically speaking, this requires many different spotlights shining on possible blind spots. Together with SCHUHFRIED, we have been able to develop an important and well-directed spotlight and use it efficiently through modern digital technology.

Dr. Carsten Ostendorp


The Canton Hospital St.Gallen is the center hospital of Eastern Switzerland and at the same time one of the largest Swiss hospitals with around 6,000 employees and 700 training places. The KSSG attaches particular importance to promoting interdisciplinary and interprofessional cooperation between the specialists from around 50 clinics - as well as beyond the hospital boundaries.

Read the full Success Story as a pdf.

More on the Vienna Test System HR.

Website Cantonal Hospital St.Gallen

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